`Ano`ai kakou… The legislature is about ready to wrap things up. Here are some important legislation affecting Native Hawaiians that are still alive:
OHA submitted House and Senate concurrent resolutions to recognize kuleana lands as historical lands and urge the counties to support efforts to promote continued ancestral ownership of kuleana lands.
The House version (HCR5) passed out of its first committee hearing and is waiting to be heard in the House Finance committee. The Senate version (SCR1) has not been scheduled for a hearing yet. Both need to be heard before an April 12th deadline. Last year, Senator Malama Solomon introduced this resolution as a personal favor to me. This year, her Senate committee has killed the resolution by declining to schedule a hearing for it. One has to wonder why someone who supported the resolution last year would now refuse to hear it.
On March 8th, the Senate Committee on Ways and Means asked OHA to comment on the cuts to our budget bill (HB 222) by the House Finance Committee. We let them know that we understand today’s economic situation doesn’t make it easy to decide how to the fund every State agencies. Therefore, we didn’t oppose the proposed decreases at this time but we did urge the committee to restore OHA’s original request.
Some of the more serious decreases include cutting $268,860 over two years for educational enrichment programs. This will probably mean that 269 less Native Hawaiian students will be receiving educational services. Health improvement programs were cut $1,100,000, which may mean 960 less Native Hawaiians receiving Health obesity services and 1,030 less pregnant Native Hawaiian women receiving prenatal services.
HB 222 passed the Senate Ways and Means committee with amendments on April 1st, and all of the funds that were cut were restored. The House now has to decide if they agree or disagree with the Senate amendments.
SB 3 proposes to establish a nonpartisan primary and general elections for OHA Trustees beginning with the 2014 elections. On March 27th, OHA Trustees took a position opposing this measure. On March 28th, the House Judiciary Committee passed the bill with technical amendments. The Senate now has to decide if they agree or disagree with the House amendments.
NATIVE HAWAIIAN ROLL COMMISSION
HB 252 would require the Native Hawaiian Roll Commission, in cooperation with OHA, to submit annual reports to the Governor and the Legislature on the status of the preparation of a roll, expenditures, and any other concerns or recommendations. It amends the definition of “qualified Native Hawaiian” to include individuals who meet the ancestry requirements of Kamehameha Schools and OHA. It also repeals the directive in Act 195 to amend the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act. Senate Committee Chairs Clayton Hee and Brickwood Galuteria amended the bill by:
(1) Deleting the requirement that the Native Hawaiian Roll remain confidential;
(2) Clarifying that all individuals already registered with the State as verified Hawaiians or Native Hawaiians through OHA are included in the Native Hawaiian Roll and extending to those individuals all rights and recognitions conferred upon other members of the roll;
(3) Inserting language to promote renewable energy in Hawaii; and
(4) Inserting an effective date of July 1, 2013;
Aloha Ke Akua.